Wellington Scoop

Wellington City Council adds two mana whenua members to all its committees

mana whenua vote

News from Wellington City Council
A proposal to add mana whenua representation to Wellington City Council committees later this year – with the representatives having a vote and being paid – received a majority vote to go to full Council this month at yesterday’s Strategy and Policy Committee meeting.

Mana whenua within the city is defined as Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

The Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee voted on a recommendation that one representative from local mana whenua Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira sit on all Council committees and subcommittees and have voting rights from 1 July.

The proposed arrangement would not extend to the Council’s CEO Performance Review Committee, the city’s two community boards or the District Licensing Committee.

The recommendation stems from a notice of motion successfully introduced last year by Councillor Jill Day (Ngāti Tuwharetoa), who chairs the Strategy and Policy Committee, and who holds the Council’s Māori Partnerships portfolio.

Under the proposal each mana whenua would be paid $111,225 a year – the equivalent to the salary paid to city councillors. Mana whenua would decide which representatives would attend committee meetings.

Councillor Day says she and Cr Tamatha Paul are the only two Māori on the Council and are often looked to for a Māori perspective. “We do bring a perspective, but we know that authentic representation by mana whenua will provide for the best decisions for Wellington.

“I want to strengthen relationships between Māori and the Council so together we can improve community wellbeing. It is only through our partnership that we can take full advantage of the opportunities from the growing Māori economy in Wellington.

“Wellingtonians have embraced Te Reo Māori in record numbers and I anticipate they will be proud their Council is taking our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi seriously,” she adds.

At the moment mana whenua are non-voting and unpaid members of the Strategy and Policy Committee and Annual/Long Term Plan committee.

Cr Day says the Local Government Act 2002 requires councils to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to decision-making and to foster ways for the development of Māori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes.

“Wellington City Council wants to work in partnership with mana whenua and to be active Tiriti partners in the way in which we govern the city. This is one of the ways we wish to do so, amongst other opportunities we are actively pursuing, such as Māori wards.”

The Local Government Act also contains provisions for additional members of council committees of to be appointed by councils. Wellington City Council already uses this provision when appointing additional independent expertise to its Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.

Cr Day notes that Wellington City Council has long had Māori representation and input in matters of local governance. The Council was the first local authority to establish a Māori Committee in 1989.

The City Council also has memoranda of understanding with Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Incorporated. Each memorandum provides a framework of Council’s responsibilities to mana whenua and focuses on a strategic partnership to provide opportunities for mana whenua to contribute to decision making processes at a leadership level.

Ngāti Toa representative Naomi Solomon supports this kaupapa.

“This will establish a further opportunity for iwi to work in partnership with Council in a more meaningful way. Te Tiriti recognises the right of iwi participation and this is supported at an international level by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This kaupapa is not a complicated one.”

Huia Puketapu, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika Trustee says: “Yesterday saw a historic moment for the future generations of Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Yesterday enabled the possibility of diversity and a Māori world view at the committee tables of Council. Our future is watching.”

Last month, following another notice of motion from Cr Day, the Strategy and Policy Committee resolved in principle to establish Māori wards in Wellington City at the next local body elections at the end of 2022, subject to consideration of feedback from the community.

Targeted engagement will now be undertaken with several groups including mana whenua, Māori and other members of the community. Feedback received from these engagements will be considered before a final decision is made.

Wellington.Scoop – April 8
The Wellington City Council today voted to appoint one representative from each of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira to sit on all Council committees and subcommittees with full voting rights from 1 July.

The only exceptions are the CEO Performance Review Committee, Community Boards, the Appointment Group, and the District Licencing Committee.

The vote was supported by eight councillors, and opposed by six. Deputy mayor Sarah Free was absent.

The council will reimburse each iwi by paying an annual fee, equivalent to the remuneration of a full time elected member, which is currently $111,225.

While one person will be appointed to each committee and subcommittee from each of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, the relevant person nominated by iwi may be different for different committees / subcommittees.

The Chief Executive will prepare an agreement to be signed between the Council and iwi and a declaration to be signed by the representatives).

The representatives nominated by mana whenua for each committee and subcommittee will be brought to Council for endorsement and formal appointment to the relevant committee.

Councillors were told today about similar arrangements on other councils:

Kāpiti Coast District Council: a partnership body Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti nominates one iwi representative to Council and one to each of the Council committees. The Chair of Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti can also attend meetings of Council and is able to contribute to the debate but not to vote. An iwi representative is also invited to sit on the Strategy and Operations Committee, and this representative has voting rights, remunerated on a meeting basis.

Porirua City Council has representation from one iwi on a whole of council committee, which is equivalent to Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee and the CE employment committee. The iwi representative has full voting rights and are remunerated at a standard councillor rate $50,100, based on one day a week. They also have speaking rights at Council.

Hutt City Council has representation from two iwi on the Council’s Water Committee and District Plan Review Subcommittee. The representatives have full voting rights for these committees and are remunerated at an hourly rate.

Greater Wellington Regional Council has iwi and mana whenua representation on most committees. All appointees have full voting rights. Council make the appointments upon each iwi authority’s recommendation after recommendation from the Council’s Māori advisory group, Ara Tahi, which has a mana whenua entitlement. Iwi authorities nominate persons for appointment to the Wellington Regional Leadership Committee (WRLC). The WRLC recommends to Council (as the administering body) its preferred candidates. The meeting fees for iwi appointees has not yet been set.

Report from RNZ
The Wellington City Council has also made a first step towards establishing a Māori ward, in time for the next election.

“A Māori ward in itself is not the only tool we should be using to engage with Māori,” said Councillor Jill Day. “We need to be using multiple tools. We need to be creative, and we also need to not accept the status quo, so we do need to challenge and we do need to change and [to] be expecting our systems to become more inclusive. Our past has been that Māori have been legislatively excluded from decision-making, which they were actually promised the right to be a part of.”

Read also
Palmerston North to establish Maori wards


  1. Jill Day, 8. April 2021, 14:09

    Another step towards decolonisation of Wellington City Council today, Maori ward next. Quote of the day from Huia Puketapu “the future is watching” (said in reference to the hopes and desires of the tamariki in this city). [via twitter]

  2. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer MP, 8. April 2021, 14:12

    Tēnei te mihi ki a Tamatha Paul, Jill Day and everyone who supported mana whenua seats with full voting rights and remuneration on the Wellington City Council. This is a huge win for Te Tiriti relationships in local government and will strengthen outcomes for everyone. [via twitter]

  3. Marion Leader, 8. April 2021, 14:32

    Will they be able to do a proper job re Shelly Bay?

  4. Vale Democracy, 8. April 2021, 15:35

    Decolonisation of Wellington. What does that ultimately mean?

  5. Claire, 8. April 2021, 15:56

    I agree with Maori reps on the council.
    But decolonisation. Does this mean all people with colonist ancestors should go back to country of origin.

  6. michael, 8. April 2021, 21:13

    I thought there was going to be public consultation on this?

  7. bsmith, 9. April 2021, 6:47

    What does Jill Day mean by “Another step towards decolonisation of Wellington City Council”.

  8. TrevorH, 9. April 2021, 8:00

    “Decolonisation”? Has the Wellington City Council issued a unilateral declaration of independence, and if so, from what? Ratepayers perhaps? We should be so lucky.

  9. Robert Scott, 9. April 2021, 8:24

    What does “decolonisation” mean? This is a slippery slope that drives a wedge between the peoples of New Zealand.

  10. Guy M, 9. April 2021, 8:46

    Decolonization is a political concept that it would be useful to have someone talk knowledgeably about. There is obviously some fear and uncertainty here as it is a new subject for most. As far as I’m aware, no, it does not involve sending people back to where they came from. But it does involve stopping treating Maori as children, incapable of making decisions for themselves and instead invite them to the table where they can join in the decision making process. A typical example may be like the water issues: the pakeha way is to commission a water expert who may say “treat the water by poisoning it with chlorine” and then everyone votes for that to happen. Hopefully with iwi involvement we may get an alternative viewpoint. Perhaps like: “hey, we would rather not do that because we have been drinking this water for the last few hundred years and it tastes nice – so let’s find out what went wrong and try and fix it before going down the chlorine pathway”. There’s a lot of hope and positivity in a decolonized future.

  11. Lindsay, 9. April 2021, 9:35

    On this subject, a council paper on the Central Library (to be considered next week) states:
    there is currently much effort put into retaining colonial heritage, with much less of a focus on acknowledging the far longer presence of Māori in this place. Libraries in their current form are colonial institutions and by design privilege western knowledge. The Council will consider different ways, apart from written, that knowledge is transmitted.

  12. Marion Leader, 9. April 2021, 9:59

    The efforts to “de-colonise” were all supported by the eight young women on the Council and opposed by the four men and the two older women. Perhaps it is gender that raises the concerns about colonisation. Or is it youth?

  13. michael, 9. April 2021, 16:35

    Guess I had better get my bags packed ready to leave, but not sure where to go as, even though I am a 4th generation kiwi, it is starting to feel like I do not belong here.

  14. Martin Lawrence, 10. April 2021, 10:06

    Under the Treaty of Waitangi we are all equal and Maori can stand for election alongside any other New Zealander. No race should be held to be more important than any other. Immediately separate wards are initiated, democracy is lost. Appointment rather than election would encourage a divisive society where Maori have greater rights than the rest so we would inherit a split society, viz “them and us”.
    This would be AGAINST the Treaty of Waitangi which states everyone is to be equal. Don’t let us lose that. No, I do not agree with separate Maori wards.

  15. Claire, 10. April 2021, 12:31

    Martin: Yes the treaty states we are all equal. But we are not all treated equally – that is the point.

  16. luke, 10. April 2021, 13:04

    Some are a little more equal than others. Race-based politics should be consigned to history, including the Maori only electorates in Parliament.

  17. TrevorH, 10. April 2021, 14:20

    The vote to create racially privileged positions with full voting rights on Council committees without any consultation with the public further undermines the Council’s credibility. And we’re expected to pay a further 13.5% in rates next year?

  18. Alf the Aspirational Apterxy, 10. April 2021, 14:59

    If some Councillors wish such non-elected positions to be created, they should make it part of their platform for the 2022 Council elections.

  19. D'Esterre, 10. April 2021, 22:28

    This is just plain undemocratic, as is the proposal to establish a Maori ward. I’m astonished that any Councillors would vote in favour of it.

    Guy M: “Decolonization is a political concept….” Here’s the meaning of decolonisation: the action or process of a state withdrawing as ruler from a former colony, leaving it independent. NZ hasn’t been a colony since the passing of New Zealand Constitution Act, 1852, which granted it self-government.

    Lindsay: I note the excerpt about libraries. Just when I thought I’d seen everything. Does whoever wrote it know anything about the history of libraries? And do they understand that oral histories are inadequate beyond a low level of social and technological complexity? Clearly not.

    Claire: “But we are not all treated equally…” NZ is a modern representative democracy; what you claim here just isn’t so. Unless, of course, you’re referring to the Maori electoral system, which discriminates in favour of Maori.

    Michael: “…even though I am a 4th generation kiwi, it is starting to feel like I do not belong here.” Indeed. I was born here, as were my parents and one lot of grandparents, yet we’re increasingly being made to feel unwelcome. How long do we have to have been here before we’re considered to be NZers?

  20. Daniel, 10. April 2021, 23:00

    “Some are a little more equal than others…” Agree completely, and precisely why this is the right thing to be happening.

  21. Whā lap, 11. April 2021, 7:20

    Quite right Alf. Does anyone from the northern ward remember if Cr Day ran on a platform of decolonisation at the previous election? All I could find was a statement saying she would keep rates rises to 3 percent and look how thats panned out.

  22. sixthlight, 11. April 2021, 8:55

    It’s been on Unity’s top 10 list for six months – ‘Imagining Decolonisation’ is a kind and useful read for Pākehā and other tauiwi and I highly recommend it. [via twitter]

  23. Claire, 11. April 2021, 9:19

    D’Esterre: We had a debate around this a few articles back. There were some good comments on the racism towards and poor treatment of Maori. Your view is black and white with no understanding of history and insidious inequality. Yes we live in a democracy but it is still unequal. White privilege is a REAL thing.

  24. Alf the Aspirational Apterxy, 11. April 2021, 13:19

    @Claire: We have had excellent Councillors of Maori descent who were elected on their merits. Paul Eagle and Ray Ahipene-Mercer spring to mind. There are two serving Councillors who identify as Maori. Giving voting rights to unelected people is a slap in the face for democracy.

  25. Rebecca Matthews, 11. April 2021, 15:13

    Not going to say anything controversial, but still gobsmacked a few days later that nearly half of Wellington City Councillors voted against Mana Whenua voting rights. In 2021. [via twitter]

  26. Alf the Aspirational Apterxy, 11. April 2021, 17:06

    @Rebecca Matthews: Yes it’s 2021, not 1821.

  27. Claire, 11. April 2021, 17:42

    Talking about all voices being heard. At the Newtown fair today a hive of diversity, creativity, and fabulous music and not a six-storey building to be found – just some lovely four-storey history and Cuba St style grunge.
    I came across the ‘be aware of what’s happening in Myanmar’ group. Quite sobering. There are 6000 people in NZ from Myanmar and they are very worried about family.

  28. michael, 11. April 2021, 18:53

    Rebecca Matthews: Perhaps those councillors who voted against it have the same concerns as the people who have commented here, and surely, they have every right to have a different opinion to you. Have you read and reflected on the reasons why others oppose the decision?

  29. Ray Chung, 11. April 2021, 20:06

    D’Esterre, I agree with your comments. Rebecca, you may be gob smacked that seven councillors voted against this but perhaps they considered that this is an affront against democracy to have non-elected members given voting rights and being paid that huge amount of ratepayers money. Alf, I concur that candidates running for council should be compelled to state what they stand for and should be held accountable to this. I believe that all of the councillors who voted for this have a disregard for democracy and ratepayers.

  30. D'Esterre, 12. April 2021, 0:42

    Claire: The Maori electoral system aside, this is not a racist society. We do not have societal or legal arrangements which systematically discriminate against particular sectors of society on the basis of their ethnicity.
    “…we live in a democracy but it is still unequal.” The economic inequality which has proliferated in this society over the past 40 years or so has everything to do with the rise of neoliberalism and nothing to do with democracy. A democracy treats all-comers equally with regard to the vote: that’s precisely what ours does here (Maori seats aside). But that has nothing to do with economic equality; citizens are able to vote, regardless of their economic circumstances. There’s always been economic inequality, both here and elsewhere. That’s the way of the world, unfortunately. Skin colour is an extrinsic characteristic only. It signifies nothing. In my time working in the health sector, I met many desperately poor white people. There are still many of them; not much privilege there, as I’m sure they’d point out. I guess that you’re thinking of economic privilege. But that’s not marked by any particular skin colour in modern NZ.

    I say again: the proposals are just plain undemocratic.

  31. Claire, 12. April 2021, 9:22

    Ray and D’Esterre: racism is not legally sanctioned in NZ you are correct. But it is still there throughout society. Maori had land taken and Maori were killed ie Parihaka. Maori lead the health statistics. When the stats are more even I will believe that NZ is not racist. I think you and Ray ignore what is and has happened in NZ. Look to the recent Stuff declaration of sorrow over racist reporting. Are they making that up?

  32. Toni, 12. April 2021, 10:22

    Absolutely agree with all those who call out this decision as undemocratic. And I am sorry for those who may feel the same way but are reluctant to say. It is not about race, it is about our democratic process, which this decision undermines.

  33. Claire, 12. April 2021, 11:27

    Toni – soon Maori reps will be elected through the Maori Ward system. Will that be democratic? The petition that used to be available to stop them being elected has been taken away. Was that petition racist?

  34. Keith Flinders, 12. April 2021, 12:01

    For those old enough to remember him, the song writer/singer Don McLean might have penned: “Cry, cry, Wellington cry, for today your local democracy died”. Appointing unelected representatives to any council devalues the efforts of those who campaign and win over the majority of their electorate voters.

  35. bsmith, 12. April 2021, 14:10

    The Local Government Act 2002 does not require Maori wards; Maori representation on local government overall is already proportional to population percentage, and there is absolutely nothing in the Treaty about voting arrangements. If this does come to pass in Wellington, will the council next consider seats at the table for say, Italians/Greeks, Asians – surely all these races should be represented as well.

  36. Ray Chung, 12. April 2021, 14:17

    Hi Claire, there can always be two or more slants on a story or how you write it. I consider that the focus on the “I’m sorry” articles was written to sell more newspapers and yes, you’ll possibly be thinking that I’m just being cynical. I believe that you’ve come across many generalities that have formed your opinion on racism, either real or perceived. You might recall I gave you some snippets of my background? Here’s a bit more; I was born in Wellington, lived in Jessie Street in Te Aro and went to local primary and secondary schools. Throughout all my childhood and into adulthood, I’ve never experienced any overt racism. When I was at my first job at Telecom, I did have a manager who made jokes about being Chinese but he also made jokes about the Irish, Canadians and every other one of the races we had there. I also had two Maori colleagues and they were “subjected” to the same jokes and comments but we didn’t view this as racism per se but just a reflection of this manager’s character. You mention Parihaka but shouldn’t it be equally important how Te Rauparaha and Hone Heke killed their enemies? There was a war on then and these things happen but that was then and this is now. We can’t be held responsible for others’ actions many generations before in quite different circumstances. I believe there are reasons why there’s inequality but it’s not just with Maori but also with other races. I had a meeting this morning with a Filipino who came to NZ as a refugee with absolutely nothing and now he’s a successful businessman through the hard work and sacrifice that he and his family have endured. If he can do it, so can anyone. So back to giving unelected iwi the right to vote and be paid is simply wrong! These self-same iwi have had an open invitation to attend these sub-committee meetings for 13 years now. This is just councillors thinking it’ll assuage whatever guilt feelings they have and forgetting that they were elected to help all ratepayers equally.

  37. Claire, 12. April 2021, 14:55

    Ray most people I speak to realise there is racism in Nz. My take on this is not based on generalities. It is outcomes based. How do you explain Maori doing so poorly in health? Yes you can do well in NZ but certain conditions must prevail.

  38. Daniel, 12. April 2021, 17:43

    Ray, I believe your anecdotal evidence reads like a textbook case of survivorship bias. Claire is correct to look at outcomes as an indicator of inequality.

  39. Ray Chung, 12. April 2021, 20:18

    Hi Claire, I’m keen to know what these people you speak with say are examples of racism? I’m not doubting you but I haven’t experienced this and I’ve been Chinese all my life. So when you ask why Maori do so poorly in health, is the answer perchance a medical one? Is it hereditary or perhaps diet? My doctor unceasingly reminds me when I gain weight and it’s difficult to lose the extra weight when my favourite meal is KFC. But how will paying iwi to attend sub-committee meetings and having voting rights help improve health comorbidity? I feel that we’re confusing two things with the expectation that if we continue to throw money at this problem, we’ll end up with an equitable solution. I’m happy to look at outcomes of inequality but I’m still not sure how I can look at someone who is considered at the lower strata and determine the reason for this and provide a solution? I’m still adamant that disregarding democracy isn’t going to resolve anything.

  40. NigelTwo, 12. April 2021, 22:01

    I understand that the City Council is required to consult with local iwi on decisions. To date the iwi input has been provided for $0. It seems reasonable to pay for the time and effort put in by these representatives. However to create a voting right changes the democratic balance. It seems that this change was enabled by:
    – a conscience vote of councillors;
    – no general public consultation;
    – decided by a simple majority.
    It just doesn’t seem right to me that our processes in 2021 can allow this to happen.

    bsmith: This is not about Maori ward establishment from what I can see. That is yet to come.

  41. D'Esterre, 12. April 2021, 23:53

    Claire: “But it is still there throughout society.” But it isn’t. Racism is what governments do, not what people think and say. We can change the former, but little to no hope of changing the latter. In fact, attempts to do that will likely backfire.

    “Maori had land taken…” Of course they did. Hence land returned through the Treaty settlements. But privately-owned land cannot now be returned without creating a raft of fresh injustices for landowners, who will be both Maori and non-Maori.

    “Maori lead the health statistics.” They’re overrepresented in negative stats, yes. Having worked in the health sector, I’m well aware of this. But it has nothing to do with racism. The health system isn’t racist. Poor health status is a consequence of poverty, with all of its ramifications.

    “…you and Ray ignore what is and has happened in NZ.” That’s the whole point: we don’t. I’ve already sheeted home to neoliberalism responsibility for the dire situation among the poorest NZers, Maori among them. I’d add to that the curse of drugs: cannabis first, then the arrival of meth in the early years of the 21st century.

    It isn’t clear to me how undermining the democratic system by inserting racial preferment will make the slightest difference to the problems besetting the poorest Maori.

  42. Claire, 13. April 2021, 9:18

    Ray and D’esterre I obviously don’t agree with you and agree with Daniel that you rely on anecdotal evidence for your arguments. Things run a bit deeper than that. What is the cause of poverty – why do people take drugs? Is their Mana shattered? It can take generations to recover from ancestors being slaughtered, and not being allowed to speak your own language. Ray just because we have access and knowledge about diets does not mean every group does. There is systemic racism in organisations ie health. And it could be very subtle. But I think it is being addressed.

  43. Ray Chung, 13. April 2021, 11:27

    Good morning Claire, I’m an engineer by trade so I guess that it’s in my nature to rely on anecdotal evidence and facts but I accept that there are some things where this isn’t available. I like your questions but it’s not so easy getting the answers. This issue of how we can help Maori in our catchment area in the Onslow Residents Association came up so we spoke with several Maori households but the consensus in the seven families we canvassed was that they just wanted to be treated the same as anyone else. I discussed this iwi representation with councillors and they said the council’s consultation with them resulted in ambivalence and this was not something that they requested and are unsure how it would benefit them. We’re striving to get the results of these consultations now. I do accept that we should look at all sides of these issues to seek a resolution but getting accurate data is very difficult. Yes, I do acknowledge that you may never agree with D’Esterre and my views but that’s fine as long as we can still sit down and discuss these issues.

  44. Claire, 13. April 2021, 13:33

    Ray : I don’t rely on anecdotal evidence because that places people in a bubble. And it is never about just a few people or friends, as you often hear your own views played back. It sounds like you make a big effort with the residents in Onslow.
    There are good Govt stats on health outcomes amongst large numbers of people.

  45. D'Esterre, 13. April 2021, 20:28

    Claire: “The petition that used to be available to stop them being elected has been taken away. Was that petition racist?” No. Of course it wasn’t. As with so much in this issue, it’s been misrepresented. Here’s the link. Note from that document the following:
    “..the electors of the area affected by a proposal (“the affected area”) may petition for a poll to be held to determine whether or not the final proposal will be implemented … A poll will be held if 10% or more of the affected electors of any one of the territorial authorities affected by the proposal submit a valid petition.”
    So. Now that citizens have lost the ability to petition for a poll, we have no recourse, if local authorities propose organisational changes which will negatively affect us. This is a comprehensive white-anting of democracy.

    “…you rely on anecdotal evidence for your arguments.” Health stats aren’t anecdotal: they’re evidence. Likewise the multiplicity of other stats on the dire situation of the very poorest in our society. Institutional racism in the health system would entail legislation which discriminates against particular groups. I worked in the health system for many years: there was no legislation of that sort.

    “What is the cause of poverty – why do people take drugs?” There’s poverty in every society worldwide. Humans – not just poor people – take drugs. And there’s a risk of mental illness as a result. Not all of the very poor in NZ are Maori. And not all Maori are very poor.